Crits @ the Park #10 (2/3/4 – Cyclopark)

 

This week was the final race in the Crits @ the Park series at the Cyclopark, Gravesend. I’ve chased a result at this circuit all year after I felt I needed to do better than I did in the March Hare Classic. I had set myself the goal to win a race here since then as I really like the circuit and it’s local to me, but I haven’t yet ‘got it right‘ in a race there. As it happens, my plan wasn’t to race today at all, but I fancied a hard crit for training rather than an unstructured 3/4h in Kent.

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My riding in the week leading up to today was all about hours and making the most of the weather while it lasted. There’s been a lot of Richmond laps going in as we (RPR) went after Sharland’s Richmond KOM (and tried to better the 14:23 London Dynamo group lap too, as that is the maybe the most comparable) on Tuesday morning this week, but we came up short on the KOM  (14:14 vs. 13:57). Lessons learned: (somehow??) take time before Priory Lane. [edit: Dynamo have since blown our time away with ~14:01!]

Some people came up to me today at the race (and even during the race!) and said they had read/enjoyed my blog, which is pretty cool. I always think it is a bit on the wordy side and someone shot back with something like – ‘but you do 500mi weeks, you clearly have time for detail’. Brilliant. I try not to frequently violate the 100 word per BC point rule…

Ride to the racing

Sorry Des, another KOM sniped.

The race

The first thing I noticed today was the odd wind direction and strength – rarely is there a tailwind on the finishing straight, blowing you up the hill. I learned at Hog Hill that the tailwind on the hill is usually a bad thing for trying to split up the bunch. I’d try to do that today, regardless.

download (4)Profile from VeloViewer – bottom to top is W to E and left to right is N to S. The wind was fairly strong from the N.The finish is at the gap in the line in the top-right grid square. The race is run clockwise.

The first lap was ridden like a neutral lap as everyone got a feel for the conditions and the circuit. The party was spoiled at the start of the 2nd lap when it was back to the usual Cyclopark style of 800w sprints out of every corner…

I wanted to get involved too, to counter some of the moves that had been brought back and start the racing to bring back Vojtech Blazejovsky (PMR @ Toachim) who’d rolled off the front on the 2nd or 3rd lap, and was taking time.

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There wasn’t really a purpose other than to try and make the race a bit harder and maybe take a small group off the front. As many guys began to comment in the race, far too many people were riding negative – just sitting there on an expensive bunch ride. I get that people are chasing points at the end of the season to move up or retain category and might be racing conservatively, but this was ridiculous. We definitely did a whole lap just riding around chatting.

Any attempts to force some action were shut down. I tried a few attacks at the halfway point and stayed away for around a lap before being ridden down. Then the bunch would sit up. It was incredibly negative racing by people I know race a lot. I asked people why they were riding down 2nd place on the road, but not the solo breakaway? Even trying to form a paceline to organise a chase didn’t work. People simply weren’t interested in winning the race. They didn’t even bother counter attacking to try and get away either… it was a weird situation.

After another 20 minutes of general venting, a move that had the potential to win the race got together. It had the right combination of 5-6 strong and willing riders and was kicked off by an attack just before the finishing line. Another dig out of the hairpin gave us a decent gap on the bunch. On the downhill, one rider spoiled the entire breakaway by blowing up on his way through to do a turn, blocking the road in the process on the downhill and ruining everyone’s momentum. I got around him, but the rest of our escape couldn’t. James Bonham (TAAP Racing) caught up and wanted to continue, but the bunch got back to us a few corners later. It was a shame as I was ready to help pull the move clear – everyone felt it was *the* move. Never mind.

After this, the solo breakaway had about 30s on us and I caught a glimpse of 2 laps to go on the lap board. Catching him would be incredibly hard, but the fight for position was invigorating the speed of the bunch and helpfully bringing the gap down. Just after 2 to go, I felt I couldn’t wait any longer if I was going to have a chance at winning the race, and I attacked on the downhill. However, I had a few riders happily sitting on my wheel who were unwilling to pull through to try and guarantee themselves a place, so I weaved across the road a few times and couldn’t help but laugh to myself and wonder what their plan was. I still wanted to try and win the race…

Coming across the line to take the bell I think we were given a gap of ~20s. I was 5th into the top hairpin – great position for the last lap,and I was on a good wheel too. Then the bunch sits up. James Bonham attacks as the road tilts downwards. It’s now or never and I attack through a gap and just hope nobody could follow me through. I’m going a lot quicker than James when I catch him, and give him a shout to get on – if we work together we have 2nd/3rd locked up and potentially still the win.

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My wheels caught the wind and the bike felt like it was all over the place on the downhill. A look back confirmed we had a gap but the sounds of 20 freewheels as you fly through the corners always makes you think you are about to be caught! We just had the run of 5 corners then the long uphill straight to go, but James was suffering. He came through for a turn and got us to the final corner and said I should just go for it as he had nothing left. I couldn’t see the leader at this point so I didn’t have any realistic thoughts of winning, I just had to stay away from the bunch…

So I began my final sprint all the way from the corner, which is just over 550m to go…

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I realised once I got over the top of the ramp at the beginning of the drag that the bunch wasn’t going to come back to me. I also caught sight of the leader… and he wasn’t actually that far ahead, or riding that fast. I was travelling so much faster and he almost looked as if he was cruising in for the win, unaware he could be about to get caught! He took a look back as I hit 200m to go and saw me charging at him – I think we both got out of the saddle at the same time to try and go faster but neither had anything left in the legs and both sat down. I had the momentum on him and got to his wheel at ~10m to go but just ran out of road to get around.

732w for 40s (212bpm HR at the end – was 200bpm+ for the last 2min) was me giving absolutely everything I had to catch him, and I never thought I would get close to him. I can only give him credit as he was away for basically all of the race and he still made it stick. It would be horrible to be caught on the line after all of that work. It was pretty exciting to be involved in a finish that close and dramatic, I could hear people on the line ‘ooo-ing’. He had a length on me though, and I took 2nd. Next time…

Some analysis

I don’t always post the Golden Cheetah w’ stress graphs but today’s was quite interesting. Put simply, the red line is my matchbox (w’). The orange squares are the starts and ends to matches being burnt (or an attack). This race is interesting because at my current assumed Critical Power (CP – basically =~FTP) and w’ I shouldn’t have been able to produce the effort that I did at the end. In other words, for the model to make sense, my CP would have to be higher than I think it is for my matchbox to have a 40s @ 732w match left to be burnt at the end. GC says this should be 365w. In other (other) words, my CP has improved by a few % over the summer and I am a bit stronger. I’ll go into more detail when I write a ‘season summary’ post, but I’m happy with that for now.

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The number 348 has come up a few times today – it is my current mileage for the week, and 0.348miles is the distance of my final sprint at the end…

The final stats (ouch)

The ride on Strava

I spent a few hours retrospectively scoring the TSS of my rides since June after Evans Cycles messed me around for some 6 weeks over my power meter warranty. The CTL/ATL/TSB information will be very useful to analyse the last year of riding…

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As ever, thanks for reading.

 

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2 thoughts on “Crits @ the Park #10 (2/3/4 – Cyclopark)

    1. I think I read somewhere that the UCI had changed the rules so that cameras can only be fixed to bikes and once mounted (e.g to handlebars or under saddle) they are considered a part of the bike. Whether BC adopts this… is another thing altogether. I did plan to film this race but chose not to – the BC commisaire actually asked if anyone had a camera on the start line too.

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